Saudi Arabia is preparing for a stronger relationship with the incoming Biden administration in four years President TrumpDonald Trump Hotel in the capital raises room rates at Biden’s inauguration, Republican lawmaker criticizes Trump and his colleagues for “attempting to discredit” the elections The video shows long queues on the last day of early voting in Georgia More He gave him a direct line to the Oval Office and provided support even as some of his policies and measures sparked controversy and bipartisan contempt.
The relationship between Trump and Saudi Arabia has been a constant source of tension between the White House and many Republicans in Congress, who have been alarmed by the kingdom’s involvement in the killing of Saudi-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the White House’s unbridled support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen. These actions also sparked strong criticism from Democrats.
Elected President Joe BidenJoe Biden honors frontline workers in New York speech: ‘We owe them, we owe them, we owe them’ Trump Hotel in DC raises room rates to open Biden Video shows long lines on the last day of early voting in Georgia More He described Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” and promised to have a strong hand in relations with the country, especially in confronting Riyadh over its human rights violations.
The Trump years were in some ways a golden period for the Saudis, as the Republican administration steered the United States sharply toward Riyadh by withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal. The administration’s deeply anti-Iranian policies also resulted in a military strike that killed the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Saudi Arabia, which saw the Obama administration’s negotiations with Tehran as an unwanted prologue, expects a more tense relationship with the Biden team. It is already working to calm the turbulent waters between Washington and Riyadh, with the expected release of a prominent women’s rights activist and a possible rapprochement due to its blockade of Qatar, which includes a US Central Command headquarters in several aircraft. Stationed.
“They don’t have friends here,” said Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has advised both Republican and Democratic administrations on US policy in the Middle East. Congress is hostile, the Trump administration is on its way out, and the Biden administration has made clear what its views are.
In March, Saudi Arabia is expected to release prominent women’s rights activist Loujain Al Halloul.
Al-Halloul was arrested in 2018 on terrorism-related charges, and on Monday he was sentenced to nearly six years in prison on charges that human rights groups criticize as being politically motivated. However, the terms of her sentence leave the door open to the possibility of early release.
“I don’t think this is a coincidence,” said Hussein Ibish, resident researcher at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
Biden’s next national security adviser Jake SullivanJake Sullivan, Biden grows frustrated over Trump’s lack of cooperation in the transition. Next National Security Adviser: The Pentagon has not granted a meeting with Biden’s transition team since December 18, the Saudi ruling on a female activist who set up Riyadh to confront Biden More He wrote on Twitter that the sentence was “unfair and disturbing” and that “the Biden Harris administration will stand against human rights violations wherever they occur.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also looking to take steps to resolve the four-year blockade it has imposed on Qatar, which emerged as a result of Riyadh’s frustration with Doha’s relations with Tehran.
Saudi King Salman on Wednesday He reportedly called The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, attended the meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council on January 5, in what was considered an attempt to start resolving the dispute.
“I think that’s something that might really appeal to the Biden administration,” said Ibish. “I don’t think they want to inherit the Qatar boycott.”
The Saudis are skeptical that the Biden administration will be Obama 2.0, with many of the same faces from the previous Democratic administration returning to different roles.
This includes Sullivan, who was the lead negotiator in the initial talks that led to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and Anthony BlinkAnthony Blinken interviewed Biden’s choice to lead the American intelligence community. Mnuchin says he spoke with Biden’s candidate for the Treasury Department softening the next steps for foreign policy.Biden’s candidate for secretary of state. Blinken served as Biden’s national security advisor when he was vice president and deputy secretary of state between 2015 and 2017.
Blinken, in particular, is part of the younger generation of foreign policy advisers who served in the Obama administration and supported former President Obama’s efforts for democratic change in the Middle East.
While Biden said he would “reassess” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, he indicated that he is looking more to restore balance on the world stage than to take a revolutionary shift in policy.
Biden’s transition team said it was in no place to comment, other than what the president-elect said during his campaign, and referred to his previous comments about the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Biden issued a statement in October on the second anniversary of Khashoggi’s killing, saying that the Biden-Harris administration would reassess the US relationship with Saudi Arabia and end Washington’s support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. He also expressed support for Saudi activists, dissidents and journalists, saying that the United States “will not verify its values at the door to selling weapons or buying oil.”
Tamara Kaufman Whits, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, said the reassessment is necessary to counter the culture of impunity that Saudi Arabia operates under the Trump administration while also reflecting a changing world.
“Changes in global energy markets mean that Saudi Arabia’s role in global oil prices is not as dominant as it was in the past. The Middle East in general is less central to US global strategy,” she said.
“But you cannot take relationships for granted in general, and I think that is true here,” she added.
This includes reports The Saudi government is trying to kidnap one of its critics On American soil and FBI Assessments The kingdom is using its diplomatic facilities to help Saudi citizens escape prosecution in US courts. In November 2019, two former Twitter employees and a Saudi national By the Ministry of Justice To act as illegal agents of a foreign government.
“The drive behind this desire for reassessment may be some very disturbing Saudi behavior that we have seen over the past few years, but it is also driven by these trends that cannot really be ignored,” said Waits, who served as vice president. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs in the Obama administration.
Riyadh has a major bargaining chip with the Biden administration on whether to open ties with Israel, in the wake of the Trump administration’s mediation in diplomatic relations between Jerusalem and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
While Saudi Arabia maintains quiet security relations with Israel in the face of Iran, and has taken small steps to soften relations – such as opening the airspace to Israeli commercial flights – it has so far stopped fully opening relations due to Saudi King Salman’s commitment to the Palestinians.
“If and when – I think it is a matter of when – the Saudis decide to take another step toward normalization with Israel, they will see … this as a way to revitalize their very inferior relationship with what they expect is the incoming Biden administration,” said Miller, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Ibish of the Arab Gulf States Institute said that the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is a fraught but necessary alliance, based on common goals based on shared values.
This includes the United States’ need for relations with Saudi Arabia as part of broader alliances to counter global ambitions by China, Russia’s destabilizing activities, and the maintenance of stability in the Middle East.
For its part, Riyadh needs the security that the United States provides as a global power to ensure its national safety.
“For the United States, it’s really global politics at its highest level,” Ibish said. “The two countries are stuck with each other.”